PR, Films and Fantasies

Distinction and the Aristocracy of Culture – Pierre Bourdieu

Posted on: February 28, 2010

Another reading from “Culture Theory and Popular Culture: A Reader” – John Storey

Bourdieu claims that the addiction to culture and to its specific genres is something that people inherit from their social and family background and is further developed and enriched by education. Obviously, certain groups are more privileged than others when considering their culture consumption, a factor that has clearly become a “marker of class”.

Also, in order to discover further, secondary meanings of a work of art, one has to poses specific concepts and have a very rich previous experience in the field as “the eye is a product of history reproduced by education”. By constant contact with art products, one becomes able to compare and contrast them allowing a more in-depth understanding. This leads to a social separation as the intellectual is able to differentiate the form and content of an art piece, whereas the working class would be confused when having to deal with something outside the common, “human” feelings portrayed by it.

Bringing together the work of Kant, Ortega y Gasset, Panofsky and Suzanne Langer, the conclusion in Bourdieu’s article is that what makes a work of art valuable is first of all the social norms, the artist’s intentions, but also the viewer’s understanding (and all the factors leading to it: situation, education, family background). Art is not meant to entertain the masses but to reach and enlighten the ones possessing the knowledge to understand it, “the gifted minority” who uses art to evolve.

I must say I completely agree with the author as the true appreciation of culture as an art form comes in time and only in nurtured and gifted minds. Also, all “art products” made for the masses fail to become values and fall into the grotesque and common. They end up by showing a piece of reality rather that sharing a hidden message of intellectual and emotional progress.

What do you think?

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2 Responses to "Distinction and the Aristocracy of Culture – Pierre Bourdieu"

The subject is fully clear but why does the text lack clarity? But in general your blog is great.

To be honest, I had some trouble understanding Bourdieu and talking about him is even more difficult… maybe that’s why I stumbled a bit.

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